T&T quartet, Maureen Craig-Rousseau, Willard Harris, Roger St Rose, and Anthony Marcano, all members of local hockey club Malvern, are among a strong line-up of experts who have been employed by the Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) to host and run webinars and online workshops to keep the hockey community connected.
This as the sport adapts to the 'new normal' in the wake of the COVID-19 situation, which has forced it into reinventing many of how things get done.
The various online activities are all designed to inform, entertain and enhance learning among the hockey workforce – in the modern lexicon, this is to ‘edutain’.
Of course, online courses are nothing new, as before COVID-19 struck, PAHF was delivering online courses.
And in the past two years more than 500 people have taken part in an online educational course organized or supported by the continental federation.
However, it is just that now, with restrictions in place, such courses are a necessity, not a nice-to-have extra and driven by a number of passionate hockey experts, the PAHF online program has accelerated.
Since March 31, there have been 29 webinars delivering education and information to umpires, coaches, technical officials and goalkeepers and these have been delivered in both Spanish and English and have attracted more than 1,600 participants.
And among those delivering the webinars are some of the most exceptional practitioners in their respective fields inclusive of former T&T Hockey Board President Craig-Rousseau, a member of the PAHF Board of Directors; Harris, the chairperson of the Competitions Committee and a member of the Education Panel; St Rose, the chairperson of the Umpiring Committee as well as a member of the Education Panel, and Marcano, an FIH Academy Educator and lone FIH Level III coach in T&T.
The amount of experience offered by this team is phenomenal and includes multiple Olympic Games, World Cups, Champions Trophies and Pan Am Games.
The fact that up to 27 different nationalities are joining the webinars at any one time is testimony to the success and appeal of the series of online events.
Of course, the very essence of the sport will always involve physical competition between two teams but, when it comes to education, development and learning, some aspects are likely to be carried out in a very different way as we move towards into the next stages of this Covid-19 era.
When the virus first struck, there was a sensation of reeling from a blow. How could we continue to interact and engage with people when social contact was potentially life-threatening? Very quickly, however, technology stepped in to provide the answer and hockey was quick to jump on-board.
That the hockey community has been able to respond so quickly to the necessary restrictions imposed by governments around the world has been testimony to the innovation and creativity within our sport. But increased employment of technology has also been something that was perhaps waiting to happen and just needed a cataclysmic event to move things forward. COVID-19 seems to have pushed the digital world further forwards in three months than we would normally have moved in three years.
In addition to the webinars, PAHF has also hosted its first Open Space Session.
Attracting 14 participants from six national associations, Open Spaces is an open environment where the PAHF Education Panel gathers together a group of coaches, officials and umpires to discuss, openly, a whole range of issues around hockey.
While the webinars are free for anyone to tap into, the online courses have fees attached. These courses all lead to further qualifications and run throughout the year – irregardless of the Covid-19 situation.
Among the online courses – which take place in Spanish and English – are Development Coach Levels I, II and III; Video Analysis; Fitness for Hockey Players; and Neuroscience applied to motor learning and training.